You might have noticed that when Thais talk about what year it is, the years are in the future. For example, the year we are on, 2020, in Thai year is 2563.
In this article, you will learn why Thais have a year in the future and how to convert between the Thai year and Gregorian calendar year (English year).
So how do you convert Thai year to English year?
To convert English (Gregorian calendar) year to Thai year (Buddhist Calendar): Add 543 years.
Example: 2020 is 2563 in Thai years. 1999 was 2542 in Thai years.
To convert Thai year to English year: Subtract 543 years.
Example: Thai year 2563 is 2020 in English year. Thai year 2500 was 1957 in English (Gregorian calendar) years.
Why do Thais use the Buddhist Calendar system to tell years?
The years come from the Thai solar calendar which uses years counted in the Buddhist era (B.E).
This calendar system was adopted by Rama V in 1888 (AD).
In contrast, most of the rest of the world uses the Gregorian (Christian/Common era) calendar.
Which year do Thais use in everyday life?
In everyday life, Thais use the Buddhist calendar. For example, at schools, at work, in the news, in museums, you will see the Buddhist year being used.
My driver’s license has the Buddhist years on the Thai side but uses the Gregorian Calendar years on the English side.
The times when the Buddhist year is not used is with anything to do internationally or with foreigners. For example, my passport has the years using the Gregorian Calendar.
Some Thais are so used to just the Buddhist year that if you say the Gregorian Calendar year, they might need to convert it.
Many people actually aren’t aware of the difference and get caught by surprise when they see this “future” year.
To summarize, simply add 543 years to get the Thai (Buddhist) year or subtract 543 to go back to the regular English year.